Despite six weeks of trail camera photos that revealed nothing better than a 4-pointer on the 53-acre tract of land he hunts in Moore County, Dallas Marsh of Carthage got a shot in the arm when he freshened a corn pile on Oct. 16. Noticing a profusion of fresh rubs and scrapes that warranted hunting that afternoon, he returned and harvested a 205-pound buck with a 12-point rack that measured 151 3/8 inches.

“I got in the stand at about 5:10,” Marsh said. “At about 6:25, I heard a limb or two pop, but, I didn’t even get my gun up. I didn’t really pay it any mind because nothing had shown up on camera.”

Although Marsh said an 8-year-old cutover he was hunting has produced several bucks in the 140-inch range, the lack of respectable bucks that he’d seen this season kept him from getting his hopes up.

“Then, he stepped out of the cutover,” Marsh said. “I’ll admit, when I was looking at him with just my eyes, I really didn’t think there was anything to him. I thought he was just an average deer. He walked across the road to a scrape that was next to a firebreak where they had burnt the cutover off and started pawing and cleaning it out.”

Aware of his opportunity, Marsh raised the Marlin 336 .30-30 that his father had recently handed down to him, cocked the hammer, and fired a 150 grain Federal Fusion bullet.

“He acted like he wasn’t even hit,” said Marsh. “He jumped up a little bit and just pretty much eased off. I’ve never had a deer do that. I pulled out my rangefinder and saw that he was at 56 yards. There wasn’t any way that I could have missed him. I climbed down and walked over there.”

Right away, Marsh found pink, foamy blood. Recognizing the evidence of a lung shot, he started tracking his trophy. About 60 yards in, he jumped what he thought was his buck and backed out of the woods.

“I gave him about an hour-and-a-half,” Marsh said. “I met up with a buddy of mine, and we eased back in there. I went to where I had jumped him and found that it wasn’t even him; it had been a totally different deer.  

“My buddy hollered and said that he found him. That’s when the celebrating started. At first he hollered, “10 pointer!”, then, “11 pointer!”, then he hollered out, “12 pointer!” 

Standing over his buck, Marsh realized that what he thought was an average deer was one of his best.  Although the buck had an inside spread that measured only 14¾ inches wide, the rack had mass; its bases were 6 inches in circumference. It also featured 10-inch tines and 5½ inch brow tines.